Resilience, Growth, and the Future: Interview with Meeting Co-Chairs Laura Ganoza and Lisa Ritchie

Published: April 7, 2021

Success breeds success, and a great job sometimes calls for an encore. So it is with Laura Ganoza (Foley & Lardner, USA) and Lisa Ritchie (Philip Morris International, Switzerland), who served as co-chairs of INTA’s first virtual Leadership Meeting last year and who now are joining forces again as the co-chairs of the 2021 Leadership Meeting.

Laura Ganoza

Laura Ganoza, Foley & Lardner, USA

The Meeting will take place virtually from May 3 to 7 and will center around the theme of resilience, growth, and the future.

Ms. Ganoza is a partner and head of litigation in the Miami, Florida, office of Foley & Lardner LLP, and is also the co-chair of the firm’s Fashion Apparel & Beauty practice. An active member of INTA for more than two decades, she currently serves as the chair of the Technology Monitoring Subcommittee of the Brands and Innovation Committee.

Lisa Ritchie

Lisa Ritchie, Philip Morris International, Switzerland

Ms. Ritchie, an intellectual property lawyer for 20 years, is senior counsel (Trademarks, Copyright & Designs) at Philip Morris International, where she heads a global team responsible for PMI’s intellectual property litigation and enforcement strategy for its reduced risk product portfolio. She is a member of INTA’s Board of Directors, and is also a member of both the Brand Restrictions Committee and the European General Advisory Council.

This year’s Leadership Meeting combines the best elements of INTA gatherings, plus new elements such as expanded Business Development and networking opportunities in addition to an advanced-level educational program and high-impact leadership sessions that focus on members’ professional development with insights and tools for the changed world ahead.

In an interview with the INTA Bulletin, the co-chairs talk about this year’s theme, standout sessions, what’s new this year, and why this Leadership Meeting comes at an important transitional time for members.

How was the theme for the 2021 Leadership Meeting—resilience, growth, and the future—conceived?
Laura Ganoza (LG): So much has happened since we were asked to be co-chairs the first time around that I think it was really important for us to capture and recognize this past year and the challenges it presented both professionally and personally for many people. Companies, individuals, and organizations went through a lot. They grew and they had to be resilient and there had to be strong leadership to be able to get through those times.

In order to make any sense of what happened this past year, you have to learn from it and apply the lessons learned going forward. It’s not just about what happened last year. It’s really important that we talk about the future, and about what we’re going to do about what we’ve learned. We think those three words really capture the focus of this Leadership Meeting.

Lisa Ritchie (LR): In these very obviously uncertain and unprecedented times, I think there is an appetite for discussions and learnings about how we can be better leaders in not only a period of crisis, but beyond.

This leadership can have two elements. Firstly, there’s a team development angle, where we’re seeking tools and skills to empower our teams and ourselves to lead with authenticity and empathy. Secondly, there’s a professional growth and agility element where we need to cultivate best practices and innovative ways of thinking to support our clients to navigate this transforming global and commercial landscape.

This year’s Leadership Meeting is about building these skills on both a personal and a professional level—we’re becoming brand lawyers leading with impact. We shouldn’t forget that leadership is also about the values that we bring to the workplace, and very importantly, including diversity, equity, and inclusion.


I think there is an appetite for discussions and learnings about how we can be better leaders in not only a period of crisis, but beyond.
Lisa Ritchie

How is this theme reflected in the educational program?
LR:  The concepts of growth, resilience, and leadership through change are really woven throughout the program. It’s no longer enough to simply be a trademark lawyer. As professionals, we now need to be trusted brand advisors to the business.

One great example of this is the session on brand relevance in today’s culturally shifting marketplace, which will explore brand transformation from both a legal and a marketing perspective and how to advise on reputational risk caused by external forces, social change, or a simple need to modernize.

This is complemented by sessions on demonstrating the value of IP enforcement strategies to the business, ethical considerations for advertising and social media, and financial literacy. It’s a broad and deep program, and one that’s exciting to be co-chairing.

What sessions are you most excited about?
LG: I’m very excited about all of the sessions. There’s two in particular that I will highlight: one is the journey of going from IP/trademark counsel to general counsel. We will have a diverse panel of GCs with interesting paths who can share different perspectives on how to successfully make that transition.

Also, Lisa and I are both really excited about the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) session. We both believe in the importance of DE&I, an issue our new President Tiki [Dare] is trying to espouse. It’s part of her mission for the organization this year [she established the Presidential Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion]. Having someone at the top of an organization, even a volunteer organization like INTA, believing in the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, is the example that we need to set.

What is going to be a little bit different in this session is that we’re going to have people at the highest levels of the diversity and inclusion discussion at their various organizations. People at the director level and those who are implementing strategies will be discussing DE&I from all different perspectives. I loved all of the diversity sessions that we had last year, and I’m looking forward to continuing that conversation.

LR: To follow on Laura’s comments on the DE&I session, one of the speakers is an in-house practitioner at a global brand owner who is at the absolute forefront of setting expectations of their outside counsel on DE&I deliverables. This is just a fascinating perspective on how we can take ownership on the issue and achieve tangible DE&I outcomes.

Secondly, on the “trademark counsel to general counsel transition” session, for me this is growth in action. It’s basically demonstrating the important role that brand professionals can play as trusted advisors to the business on a broader level.


[Through Business Development,] you’re put into smaller sessions where you can really have meaningful discussions or meet one-on-one on INTAconnect and cultivate relationships.—Laura Ganoza

LG: I feel the same way about the financial literacy session. For us to be a brand practitioner and be able to provide comprehensive advice to our clients, whether as in-house counsel or as outside counsel, you need to understand the brand perspective as a whole.

It’s important to understand the financial aspects of brand valuation, when certain transactions involving trademarks and intangible assets trigger tax consequences, in order to be able to “issue spot” these things. The economics of brands is something that INTA members should know so that they can confidently have these conversations with the CFO or the “money people” in their organizations.

What makes this year’s Leadership Meeting distinctive?
LG: Business Development opportunities, for one. We learned from the past Meeting that people really enjoy these smaller opportunities to meet with other like-minded members. If you’re going to be attending one of the Business Development activities, it’s because you’re already interested in the topic, so right there you already have something in common with somebody. Then you’re put into these smaller sessions where you can really have meaningful one-on-one discussions on INTAconnect and cultivate relationships, just as you would in person.

Kudos to INTA for providing this experience as part of a fully virtual program. I know, especially from an outside counsel perspective, a benefit of going to an INTA meeting is being able to expand your network. Having these smaller, virtual opportunities to do so is a real benefit to members.

LR: We’re all really wanting to get together, to network, to meet our counsels and colleagues. That’s what makes this Leadership Meeting so distinctive. We’re providing Business Development opportunities on a plate, and this emphasis is throughout the whole program. It’s reflected in the Speed Networking sessions, the receptions, the wellness session—all these really good opportunities to interact with our colleagues and friends on a professional but social level.

But it’s not just these dynamic events. There are substantive professional development sessions to build your profile through financial literacy, LinkedIn, and resume building. These are the types of skills that we all need on a practical level and the Leadership Meeting will provide us with an opportunity to enhance them.

Stepping back a little, how do you create a successful Leadership Meeting program?
LR: I don’t think it’s possible to overstate how collaborative an effort it has been to build this year’s Leadership Meeting. We’ve had the benefit of a dynamic and engaged Project Team. We’ve also had incredible support from our INTA staff liaisons and, of course, the Leadership Development Committee.


I think that you owe it to INTA to be part of [the Leadership Meeting] and, more importantly, you owe it to yourself.—Laura Ganoza

LG: Exactly. We could not do this without our amazing Project Team. The minute we called them up and asked them to be part of it, they not only jumped in, they went in headfirst and are working at breakneck speed because there’s a lot to do in a very short amount of time.

David Perry is the chair of the Leadership Development Committee, and the programs this Committee has put together are great and complement the rest of the sessions perfectly. We are grateful for the LDC and its support to fill out the program.

Given the rapid changes occurring in the world right now, why is it important for committee members to attend the Leadership Meeting at this time?
LG: I think it goes back to what the theme is all about. We’ve come out of 2020. We are looking toward the future when hopefully everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated, and we can resume some kind of normalcy with regular human interaction again. But before we can do that, it’s important to be able to look back, apply the lessons we learned and then be fully equipped when you’re able to go forward. I think that this particular Meeting will give people more tools to be able to do that. It’s a nice transition as we head into the next phase.

LR: INTA’s committees are genuinely the backbone of the INTA organization, and they’re essential to furthering INTA’s Strategic Plan and working toward its policy objectives and priorities. I’m beyond impressed at the tangible deliverables that are achieved by our committees. The Leadership Meeting is the perfect opportunity for committee members to further their important work and to achieve their committee objectives.

LG:  Part of being a committee member is that you’re making a commitment to the organization. There are so many people who want to be on committees who don’t get the chance because there are a limited number of spaces on committees. If you’re going to go through the trouble of applying, get selected based on what you say you want to do, I think that you owe it to INTA to be part of the Leadership Meeting, and, more importantly, you owe it to yourself. The personal development that you get from these committees, the experiences of learning from other people, and the opportunities to create connections, that’s the reason why you are in an international organization like this.

I always love the Leadership Meetings. It’s my favorite part of the organization because they are usually more intimate, and you get the chance to have more one-on-one, in-depth conversations with people. I always think the Leadership Meeting is a must-attend and given the programming this year, I say especially so. But I’m a bit biased.

Register here for the 2021 INTA Leadership Meeting. Registration for Premium Access ends on April 21, at 11:59 pm (EDT).

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest. 

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